By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
I am constantly asked about what my personal diet is and what do I do to maintain a healthy weight and stay fit. I always prefer explaining to people verbally and having interactive discussions, but just for you, I am going to try and provide a basic and simple overview by using my usual favourites. When it comes to my diet, I follow the general keys to a well-balanced diet.
On most of the days, I wake up and automatically have a glass of room temperature water to wake my body up and warm up my digestive system. Then, after I get ready for work, I pour myself a glass of hot water from the dispenser and add half a lemon’s juice. I drink that on an empty stomach to boost my immunity and to help improve my metabolism. I then manually juice either one tangerine or grapefruit leaving some of the pulp. As my stomach enjoys the sudden rush of vitamins and antioxidants, I start to prepare my morning smoothie. From my research and personal experience, fruit is better consumed on an empty stomach and early on in the day as to benefit from all the beneficial nutrients and to burn all that natural sugar during your first hours when you probably need that energy the most. My morning smoothies usually include low glycemic fruit, avocado, leafy green vegetables, nut milk, chia seeds and maybe a few superfood powders. With these usual ingredients, I get my fair share of vitamins, calcium, iron, protein, fibre and good fat. You might be surprised but this is the first part of my breakfast. I then have an animal based protein for the second part of my daily breakfast when I get to the office. In this case, I like to opt for hummus, chickpeas with lemon and cumin, lentils or beans with a side of gluten free bread or crackers. I like to mix both animal and plant based protein throughout all my meals as to maximise the benefits to both types of protein, to limit my intake of animal based protein and to get my fair share of all kinds of essential and non-essential nutrients. On that note, staying away from gluten is never a bad idea so I always suggest maximising your intake of gluten free products and grains and including more buckwheat and wheat bran into one’s diet as options for the alternatives.
When it comes to lunchtime, I’m usually starving and have to have a meal with either fish, chicken or meat with some carbs, maybe some wild rice or quinoa or whatever good carbs are available to accompany my main protein and a side of greens with apple cider vinegar. When it comes to eating, always remember to try your best to eat clean, simple food. I mean foods that are as natural as possible, with the least use of processed ingredients and flavouring. Always go for fresh, raw and organic material and stay away from sauces and processed goods. Home-cooked meals are the best option, so try your best to be prepared for your lunch the next day. Preparing and organising your food intake, even only in your mind, is better than nothing. You need to have a sense of control and provide yourself the opportunity to be proud of yourself for maintaining your well-balanced diet. After lunch, I might go for another smaller portion of my earlier lunch or make myself a light snack such as a bowl of quinoa or buckwheat flakes with nut milk, some crudités with Greek yogurt, or gluten free crackers with olive oil and thyme. With lunch and dinner, I always recommend water with lemon or lime juice to satisfy your urge for a cold drink but also to keep your digestive system ready for food. At dinner time, I usually go for a homemade veggie soup, animal based protein and a handful of good carbs. For me, protein is crucial at dinner time as I want to ensure my overnight muscle recovery from my gym session that day. My favourite dinner options, include pepper steak with soy noodles and veggies or lentil and mixed veggies soup with grilled chicken and black rice. I even love having me some grilled whitefish or salmon with brown rice for a lighter night. I also try to stay away from uncooked foods such as veggies during the evening hours as it is know to lead to slower digestion overnight.
In general, I try to use logic and rely on my knowledge, personal experience and research in guiding me to the right meals for me. Everyone is different and there is no one size fits all diet, so whatever you do, trust me, watching your food intake, researching your needs, making sure you are feeding on a well-balanced diet are all so critical and I really hope you start if you haven’t already. I hope my example helped and if not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me on my Instagram.
The author is a wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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